I did not expect that the most surprising – and in many ways, one of the most interesting - vehicles at the Tokyo motor show would be an 89-year-old British truck.
Taking pride of place on the Isuzu stand was a rather magnificent 1924 Wolseley CP 1.5-tonne truck. This remarkably elegant wood and brass creation (I couldn’t find out if it was the original, but it had certainly been beautifully rebuilt) was described as being the first truck built in Japan.
The Wolseley was built under licence by Ishikawajima Shipbuilding and Engineering Co (the predecessor of Isuzu Motors Ltd) and managed to just develop 25bhp from its 3.0-litre petrol engine. I don’t imagine that its four-speed manual ‘box was particularly easy to manipulate, either.
But the CP truck project nearly didn’t happen. In 1918, Ishikawajima struck a deal with Wolseley, which saw it building the big, elegant, A9 under licence until 1922, the first passenger car made in Japan. In 1923, the company was in the middle of finalising production of the CP truck when the Great Canto earthquake struck on 1 September.
Still the deadliest earthquake in Japan’s recorded history, with over 100,000 people thought to have died, it completely devastated the wider Tokyo area, partly because of firestorms.